The best dairy-free chocolate milk I’ve found is actually almond milk, specifically the “sweetened” Blue Diamond brand (the Silk brand is kinda on the gross side - and don’t get the unsweetened kind, ew!). This is so good that I’d actually drink it over regular chocolate milk! Be warned, it goes down waaaaay too easy, haha. One caveat: make sure it is COLD before you drink it, otherwise it’s not very good! Although it does make good hot chocolate if you heat it up, albeit it’s a bit watery, so add some marshmallows. It comes in 1-quart unrefrigerated boxes, as well as half-gallon refrigerated cartons.
I love using PAM spray. But I hate paying for PAM. And of course, the (cheaper) knockoffs never work quite as well as the original stuff, plus have traces of milk and/or gluten in a lot of them. The solution? Misto.
Misto is a refillable oil sprayer. Although it’s advertised as an Olive Oil sprayer, you can use pretty much any oil, vinegar, lemon/lime juice, etc. you want. Personally I like EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil), which works great. Best part is, the sucker is under ten bucks on Amazon. It comes in various colors, too. There is also a slightly more expensive Pampered Chef version, if you’re so inclined.
Basically you just fill it up halfway with oil (leave the other half empty, for air pressure), pump it about 10 or 15 times, then spray it - it actually sprays continuously like PAM does, which is awesome, although not quite at such a long distance. Cleanup is as simple as adding hot water and a drop of dish detergent and spraying it through. So to recap:
- No chemicals, preservatives, or any other ingredients
- Pressurized spray (like aerosol) via hand-pump
One trick I read is, after you’re done using it, twist the top white cap a little bit to release the pressure, then screw it back on. This prevents clogging, which seems to be a common problem with the Misto. And of course, only fill it up halfway so that you get adequate air pressure when you pump it. Goodbye Pam spray!
These are not your typical banana pancakes.
The big struggle with doing gluten-free cooking is getting your old favorites, like pancakes, to come out in an edible (and even enjoyable) manner. Most recipes come out too flat, or too gritty, or don’t taste right. Lately I’ve been experimenting with Betty Crocker’s GF Bisquick mix and have finally found the missing link: bananas.
I say these aren’t your typical banana pancakes because adding the banana into the batter doesn’t actually make them taste like bananas - it simply turns them into “pancakes” instead of cardboard circles. Yes, there’s a hint of banana as far as the aroma goes, but these taste more like run-of-the-mill pancakes than “wow, these have banana in them!” pancakes. Which is a good thing, because you can make any kind of pancakes you want using this recipe!
My GF Bisquick pancakes were suffering three problems: they were too flat (more on the flapjack side), the texture wasn’t quite right, and they didn’t brown up nicely - so I didn’t know if they were really done, and I didn’t really want to eat them anyway since they were more white than cooked-looking.
Turns out, adding banana into the mix solved all three problems! It made the pancakes poof up just right without being overly cakey and gave them a nice, creamy texture as well as a lightly-toasted look when finished. Plus, they don’t actually taste like banana! And the recipe is super easy - just dump 5 ingredients into a blender and mix for a minute or so until the batter is creamy, then cook!
- 1 cup GF Bisquick
- 1 cup Vanilla Soymilk (or Rice or Almond milk; the vanilla improves the taste)
- 2 tablespoons Oil (I like either Olive Oil or Canola Oil)
- 1 egg
- 1/2 banana
- Dump all ingredients into blender. Blend well.
- Cook pancakes over medium heat on your stove or griddle in a non-stick pan. After pouring the batter into the pan, press in any add-ins you want (sliced bananas, chocolate chips, etc.)
- The top will bubble. When the bubbles start popping, flip over.
- The second side cooks faster than the first side, so check on it to make sure it doesn’t burn.
As far as variations go, there are a ton of things you can do. Adding in about 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon is a great combination with the banana (mainly for aroma with the vanilla milk & small amount of banana). Throwing in some chocolate chips is always fun. My wife likes to make Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup pancakes, which is where you cook the pancakes with chocolate chips in the batter and then spread natural peanut butter on the top & finish up with maple syrup - yum!
When I’m in an actual “banana pancake” mood, I like to chop up the other half of the banana and press them into the pancake after I pour the batter. Sometimes I mix in cinnamon or chocolate chips and add peanut butter and/or maple syrup, depending on what mood I’m in. Yay for pancakes!
Dominos now sells a gluten-free pizza crust. It is currently only available in the small size and is a thin (VERY thin) crust. It tastes awesome! Absolutely the best gluten-free pizza I have tried. I do mine with no cheese and lots of toppings. I’ve had a couple people without allergies try it and even they say it’s good!
Ingredients: Water, Rice Flour, Rice Starch, Potato Starch, Olive Oil, Evaporated Can Juice, Tapioca Flour, Potato Flour, Fresh Yeast, Avicel, Salt, Calcium Propionate (Preservative).
As far as toppings go, I either do a meat & veggie or a Hawaiian pizza. For the Hawaiian, I do ham, bacon, diced tomatoes, and pineapple. For the meat & veggie, I do pepperoni, sausage, spinach, red & green peppers, mushrooms, and diced tomatoes, and sometimes bacon. Having more toppings makes the pizza a lot better since there’s no gluten or cheese.
They also have an allergen list for toppings on their website. Unfortunately they do not sell the crust separately, so you can’t buy it and make your own. I’ll have to reverse-engineer the recipe at some point since it seems pretty easy to make - mostly rice & potato ingredients, although it will be interesting to see how that avicel ingredient affects the crust quality.
However, it comes with a catch: it’s not safe for people who are extremely sensitive to gluten, such as people with Celiac’s disease. The Dominos kitchen is not gluten-free and the pizzas are made on shared equipment (ovens, cutting tools, etc.). Fortunately I don’t seem to be that sensitive, but be aware that they are practicing some bad advertising here - yes, technically it is gluten-free, but not really gluten-free because it comes in contact with gluten multiple times during the cooking process.
The other difficulty is customer perception - if you have a gluten intolerance or gluten allergy and see something labeled “gluten-free”, you can generally (read: always) assume that it is safe to eat. I think that Dominos is mostly jumping on the “healthy/green/gluten-free/Whole Foods” advertising bandwagon, rather than catering to people with food allergies, and kind of screwed up because they didn’t advertise this product as well as they could have. I’ve seen a lot of criticism over their decision to advertise a gluten-free product that is made in a high-gluten environment. But, it’s better than nothing! And if you have an allergy, you always need to do your homework anyway. So if you’re not extremely sensitive to gluten, give this a shot!
Love brownie edges? Then check out the Baker’s Edge brownie pan. All it makes are edge pieces! No soft, mushy middle pieces. It’s not cheap at $35 (on Amazon), but it’s very heavy-duty and great if you like brownies with crusts (it also comes with a special mall spatula for getting the pieces out). They also have a lasagna pan. I’ve had this thing for years and it’s still holding up great!
I’ve been trying to figure out how to make a good frosting and accidentally came up with this awesome caramel-like glaze! It is amazing on brownies with walnuts on top:
It’s basically just 4 ingredients:
- Creamy natural peanut butter
- Powdered sugar
- Vanilla extract
Sunspire has a great dairy-free chocolate-chip product called 42% Cacao Semi-Sweet Baking Chips. They are by far the best-tasting dairy-free chocolate-chips that I have found for baking and work great in my chocolate-chip cookies.
Ingredients: Evaporated cane juice, unsweetened chocolate, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, ground vanilla beans.
My local grocery store started selling them in the natural foods aisle. Just be careful about the bag you pick up - the new one is in the green & brown bag. There are some other Sunspire products in similar bags that contain both gluten and dairy, or are made from carob.
These are the best homemade gluten-free, dairy-free cookies I’ve been able to make so far. Like my brownies, these taste close enough to real cookies that my family will actually eat them.
- 1 box Gluten-Free Betty Crocker Chocolate-Chip Cookie Mix
- 1/4 cup Sunsweet Lighter Bake
- 1 Egg
- 1 tsp Vanilla
- 1 tsp Molasses (the secret ingredient!)
- 1/8 cup Brown Sugar
- 4 to 6 ounces of Sunspire 42% Cacao Chocolate Chips (they don’t put enough chips in the box mix - use enough to suit your tastes)
- Mix everything but the chocolate chips with a wooden spoon (it’s a dry batter)
- Stir in the chocolate chips
- Spoon into balls on a greased baking sheet
- Cook for 10 minutes at 350F until the tops are just lightly brown (they finish cooking outside of the oven very quickly; the bottoms get brown before the tops get finished)
Walnuts are really good in this recipe as well. I do not recommend adding them to the batter unless they are chopped up. Whole walnuts inside the batter make the cookies very poofy and not cook correctly, so either put them on top halfway through or at the end, or just chop them up and mix them in (although I use a spatula to flatten the cookies down halfway through baking them because they get too tall).
You can also freeze them to bake later. The easiest way is to spoon them into balls on a cookie sheet and then freeze them for a few hours (or overnight). Then put the frozen dough balls into freezer-safe Ziploc bag. This way they won’t stick to each other and you can enjoy cookies without the work!
Personally I like large walnut chunks, whole or halved. My wife is allergic to them, so sometimes I’ll just press them into half the batch right after I take them out of the oven. They tend to fall off so it’s not the best method, but you get a crunchy walnut on top of a soft cookie with that method:
These are chopped walnuts in the batter, then flattened with a spatula about 5 minutes into baking them:
Or whole/halved walnuts pressed in halfway through baking:
Betty Crocker currently has 5 gluten-free baking mixes available:
- Chocolate-chip cookies
- Devil’s Food Chocolate Cake Mix
- Yellow Cake Mix
I have tried everything but the cake mixes. They take some tweaking to make them taste normal, but otherwise are pretty good. They also have a page with Gluten-free Content Recipes. They are in grocery stores - some are in the regular baking aisle and some are in the natural foods or health food section.
Vance’s Foods has a great milk alternative called DariFree, which is a powdered mix that you make at home. This is the closest product I’ve found to the actual flavor of real milk. It is not sweet like vanilla soymilk or other products, so if you’re looking for a milk replacement, give this a try. It’s actually potato-based!
The only catch is that you have to use a blender to mix it (or a special mixing pitcher) in order to properly make it, and you also need to chill it before drinking unless you use really cold water (tastes best really cold). I can’t tell a difference in cereal and very little difference when simply drinking a cup of DariFree.
Ingredients: Maltodextrin (from potatoes), Natural Flavors (no MSG), Crystalline Fructose, Calcium Carbonate, colored with Titanium Dioxide (an inert mineral), Carrageenan, Dicalcium Phosphate, Salt, Tricalcium Phosphate, Potassium Citrate, Lactic Acid, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), dl Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Vitamin A Palmitate, Niacinamide (Vitamin B3), Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin D3, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin K1, Thiamin mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Cyanocobalamin (Vitamin B12), Biotin.
It does contain crystalline fructose, which is from corn, but their website states that it is so highly refined that most people with a corn sensitivity don’t have any problems with it. It is also gluten-free, although most milk alternatives are naturally GF anyway.